Current recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will continue to receive the protections of the Obama-era program for now, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.
The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a nationwide injunction preventing the Trump administration from rescinding DACA for current recipients.
Several district courts have reached the same conclusion, but Thursday’s decision is the first time a federal appeals court has weighed in on the Trump administration’s efforts to end the program.
Writing for the court, Judge Kim Wardlaw said that then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke was incorrect when she decided to end DACA because she had concluded that it was illegal.
Reviewing the record and immigration enforcement history, the court held that “DACA was a permissible exercise of executive discretion.”
Specifically, Wardlaw wrote that “deferred action has been a feature of our immigration system — albeit one of executive invention — for decades; has been employed categorically on numerous occasions; and has been recognized as a practical reality by both Congress and the courts.”
Because the court concluded that DACA was not illegal, it held that challengers to the decision to end DACA on that basis “are likely to succeed in demonstrating that the rescission must be set aside.”
As other judges have stated in their opinions, Wardlaw also noted that the decision is not one declaring that the Trump administration could not end DACA.
“To be clear: we do not hold that DACA could not be rescinded as an exercise of Executive Branch discretion,” she wrote. “We hold only that here, where the Executive did not make a discretionary choice to end DACA — but rather acted based on an erroneous view of what the law required — the rescission was arbitrary and capricious under settled law.”
Earlier this week, the Justice Department attempted to skip the appeals courts altogether, asking the Supreme Court to take up the issue so that it could be decided this term — meaning a decision on the legality of the effort to rescind the program likely would be decided by June. The Supreme Court has yet to take any action on that request.
This is a developing story. Please check back at BuzzFeed News for the latest.